Heaven Falls Hard Interview: Ether on Earth
Conducted by Anthony Servante
I listen to KPFK, Santa Barbara Radio, which plays experimental music, from Latino/World, Folk, HipHop, Jazz, to Goth. I heard Heaven Falls Hard on their World Music Hour, not as one would think, the Goth Hour. Sadly, I didn't catch the name of the band. Then on Nocturne: Dark & Dreamy Music, the music group on Facebook, I heard the band again. I rushed to Youtube and listened to all they had on the Goth sound of these amazing musicians. Then I approached them on their Facebook page and asked them if they'd like to talk to my readers about their group. They agreed.
So, now, I present Heaven Falls Hard.
Purchase music here:
- How did the band come together? What were the commonalities that brought together the collaboration?
Stacye: We met in the spring of 1993. We were at an art show and someone from the group Randy was there with, knew someone from the people I was there with. We all ended up back at my apartment after the art show. After looking at my record collection and finding out we liked some of the same bands, it came up in conversation that Randy was in a band, looking for a singer. Could I sing? Did I want to try out? I went to their band practice soon after that night and surprise! I could sing, write lyrics and play keyboards. And we have been playing together ever since.
Over the years we have continued to play together as Randy and I hear the same music in our heads. I think that is the main commonality. We both like real honest music. Neither of us try for any type of sound or fit into a genre: we both just play the music that we love.
Oh and a deep love for alcohol. We also have that in common. I love to drink and sing, Randy loves to drink and hit the record button. Works out great.
Randy: Yeah, that’s pretty much how I remember it all starting as well.20 years later we’re still here doing what we do.
Boots & Angel photo. We have used this image for years on t-shirts, posters and most recently our twenty year retrospective” 20 Years of Tears”
- How are the songwriting duties divided? Whose lyrics grace the songs?
Stacye: We each write the music, though Randy more so than I. I write the lyrics. We don’t have one method for writing. Sometimes Randy has recorded some music, sends it to me and I will write lyrics to it. Sometimes I have a piano or string melody in my mind and I play it for him and he fills it out with drums and guitar. At times we will write together. Every once in a while the lyrics happen first.
- Eno once said that music is a place. What place do you intend for your listeners to visit when listening to the music?
Stacye: When writing the lyrics or the music, I do not have an intentional place in mind. I like for the listener to interpret the music in their own way. Within our songs, I do hope the listener finds something they can relate to.
Randy: I write what I am feeling at that moment, it’s a musical journal of my life during that time. When writing, it’s to satisfy myself first but it is always nice when a listener can understand and relate to what they are hearing.
- What are the major themes you strive for with your music?
Stacye: Hmm. I don’t think strive for themes really. We don’t sit down and say ”Today, I am going to write a song about wanting to die just to get some peace and quiet”. It just happens. There are a few themes that carry throughout each album just due to how we write but we do not focus on them . Our music tells stories of soul crushing love, loss, eternal commitment, disillusionment, death, decay, failure, hopeless yearning ... You know, everyday type stuff.
I do strive for an effect with the music. I want whoever is listening to feel like I do. I recently read a review of our album Solace and I think the reviewer summed up our music so perfectly: “…it feels like your heart is slowly being ripped out with each lamenting track.” http://www.gothicparadise.com/hfh.htm. That’s the effect that I am striving for. J
Randy: The only theme that I strive for with our music is to stay true to myself when writing. It has to be real and hopefully by doing so, we will continue to release music that I am proud of for many years to come.
- Can you tell us about the influences from other artists that helps propel your sound?
Stacye: For me, I think I can trace it back to hearing This Mortal coil. The 4AD Compilation Lonely is an Eyesore came out in 1987. I was 15. It had Song to the Siren on it. That introduced me to This Mortal Coil. I had Drew from Unicorn Records in Portsmouth (The local indie record store that everyone got their music from. This was pre- internet days!) order It’ll End in Tears and Filigree and Shadow for me. On vinyl!! When I heard them, I found the music that I had always wanted. I wanted to curl up in those albums and live there forever. I think hearing those albums told me it was ok to make my own type of music. There were others out there like me. Every song did not need three guitars, bass and a drum solo. Sometimes a string line and voice is all a song needs.
And Dead Can Dance. Or course. Some of our early music you can hear me trying to emulate her. My singing voice is naturally deeper and full of volume and DCD was a wonderful role model for embracing that sound. After a few years, I found my own style and my own voice.
Though those bands were an influence to my early sound, I am my own voice, my own music now. They were just fantastic in helping me to realize that it is ok to be yourself and make music that doesn’t fit in with what everyone else is doing.
Randy: In my teens, drums were the initial instrument of my choice. I played in several local metal and punk bands over the course of those years. It wasn’t until one night in 89 that I was captured by a whole other beautiful genre of music.
On that night, I had been invited by Valerie (who at that time I had no idea she’d become my future wife of 20 years & counting) and a group of friends to go and see The Cure In Orange on a one night showing at the local Naro Theatre. That night forever changed my life in two ways. One being the first unofficial date with the woman of my life and two, being introduced to music that completely moved me in a way that I’d never felt before. Soon after, I picked up the keyboard and started writing music of my own.
Over the next few years that followed, I discovered many great artist that helped influence my music. Bands like The Cure(of course), Joy Division, Sisters ,Bauhaus ,Christian Death , early 4AD
(Dead Can Dance,Cocteau Twins , This Mortal Coil) , early Projekt (Black Tape For A Blue Girl , Lycia) , also the music of John Carpenter and Goblin just to name a few. It was always very important to me not to copy these artists, but to pull from them and create a unique sound of my own. That unique sound was completed upon that first practice with Stacye during the spring of 93.
- Some bands rely on a psychedelic light show to enhance their music. How do you handle capturing your ethereal sound on stage?
Stacye: This question made us laugh! At most of the places we have played through the years, we were lucky to have lights! If we had a stage that we all could fit on and decent sound it was good night.
Our shows are different than most bands as we are slower in tempo. We aren’t a get up and dance band, though at times over the years we did have other members and could totally rock the house but mostly it was Randy and I and our sleeping pill tunes. Our outlook was always go up there play our music the best we could. I have seem horrible bands with amazing stage shows and I have seen amazing bands with nothing but a flashlight lighting their equipment enough to work it for the show. Yes, a lightshow can add to the experience but in the end, the music is what counts.
As for capturing our ethereal sound live, that can be challenging when there is a foosball tournament in the back of the bar. Drunks screaming “ I’mgonnakillyou” when they lose a game, somehow doesn’t enhance our music at all. We tried to have candles at shows but some venues didn’t like open flames near a crowd of drunk people. (My argument was that everyone is standing around with drinks, if something catches fire, it can be quickly doused. Somehow, that was not convincing.) Fog machines are awesome to watch, but we had to nix those as they dried out my throat to where I could not sing. We rely upon our music to “set the mood”. That’s it.
- What are some of the bands you’d love to open for? And what bands should open for you?
Bands we would like to open for…..Hmm….. How about any band that can show up on time, bring fans, not get drunk and wreck the show, set up and take down their gear quickly, pay us without us threatening them with bodily harm, and can be cool and have a drink with us after the show.
Bands we would like to open for us: any bands that can show up on time, bring fans, not get drunk and wreck the show, set up and take down their gear quickly and can be cool and have a drink with us after the show. Local knowledge of the best places to eat is a plus.
We have been playing for 20 years. At this point, who we open for or opens for us really doesn’t matter. As long as everyone has a good time and the night goes smoothly, we are happy.
Stacye: I think my favorite bands in the past that we opened up for or had open for us, were the ones that were not of our genre. We have played with all kinds of bands: metal, uber-goth, electronic, industrial, etc. I loved playing those shows and having someone come up to us afterwards and say they came to see the other band, but loved us and would come to see us again.
Randy: Well, my favorite shows of the past were the ones during the mid 90s till the year 2000 or so. The Virginia Goth/Darkwave scene was still up and coming. Bands like us, Bella Morte, Siddal, In Tenebris , Vehemence Realized , The Voilet Dawning , etc. would all play shows together on the regular. There was so much love and support amongst the bands. We were all fans of each other. Now days , it seems that a lot of the newer bands in the scene are all about competing to be the biggest rockstar , who’s got the most facebook likes and other shit like that. That’s not for me.
JDavid, Bella Morte, Siddal, Vehemence Realized and DJ’s at Twisters IN Richmond VA. Late 1990’s.Stacye is third in from the left, black dress and Randy is second row behind the blond Dj guy, 4th in from the left. Good times.
- Can you talk about touring. What are your current plans? Can we expect a visit from HFH in LA soon? I’d love to see you guys in concert.
No touring plans at this time. Each of us has families with kids. Randy and his wife own their own business as does Stacye. Randy still has a son in school and Stacye’s daughter is young. Getting away for a ‘tour’ would be incredibly difficult. When we started out we didn’t have real jobs or families or mortages. Piling all of our equipment into the cars and hitting the road was so much easier then. One day if either of us wins the lottery, we will get a couple of nice big tour busses and hit the road.
Touring used to be the way you got the word out about your band. Now, we have this fabulous thing: the internet. It spreads the word, and helps our music reach farther than we ever could by touring. We have fans all over the world, and even one or two in our own country. We are getting the word out about our music using this fantastic piece of modern wonderment: the computer
- What are you working on now? What can fans expect from HFH in the immediate future and long term?
We just released an album our some of our favorite songs that we have done over the past 20 years.
It is free and has some great songs on it.
Currently we are doing the final work on a new album! The Mercy Go Round. We started recording it a few years a go and finally finished it.
We plan to have it released this year. We are working on the song order, taking pictures and deciding which label to go with. We really want hard copies of this disc, not just the downloading option.
After that, maybe another album? We don’t have any set plans, just making music and seeing what happens.
- Can you give our readers a Top Ten List of songs both by you and others that you’d consider important to your career to date? And tell us a bit about each song.
1. This Mortal Coil. Song to the Siren
This is the song that introduced me to 4AD music and I still enjoy it today as much as the first time I heard it.
2. Simon and Garfunkle - For Emily, whenever I may find her
I love the dreamy quality of this song. I had all of Simon and Garfunkle on vinyl.
3. Johnny Cash – The Caretaker
My dad was/is an old country fan and so when I was young, in the car, that’s what we listened to 8 tracks of Statler Brothers, Tom T Hall, Kenny Rogers, Mac Davis, etc. 1970’s country. It might be where my love of a sad ‘somebody done somebody wrong ’ song comes from.
This song isn’t one most people have heard but it is one of my all time favorite songs. “ Who’s gonna cry when old John dies?” This song is a gorgeous example of voice and guitar in simple perfection.
4. Siouxie and the Banshees – Softly
For years, I would to listen to this song every night before I went to sleep.
5. Sisters Of Mercy - 1959
I loved SOM and this song has always been one of my favorites. Piano and voice. Again, simple but so powerful.
6. Colder - This is HFH summed up in about 3 minutes: the strings, the lyrics, the tone.
We have done many versions of this song over the years and each one is always great. I loved it when we would play this live and people would sing along!
7. Frightened: This song is on Solace and it is perfect HFH. Repetitive guitars and drum beat balance well with the vocals.
8. I died for you: This is the first song we ever wrote together. It is on the Colder re-release. We didn’t realize it at the time, but these two lines summed up everything we would write about over the next 20 years. For my birthday last year, Randy made we wine glasses with some of our lyrics on them. One of the glasses has these lines on there. I love that glass.
Empty and losing more,
everything slips away.
Nothing is left
at the end
of a miserable day.
9. Stars in my Eyes- This one is on the new album due out this year. It is the first song we had written together in a while and it is my current favorite. It has voice harmonies, piano, strings and a steady funeral beat. (Upcoming. Look for it here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Heaven-Falls-Hard/47863712861).
10. Undone: This song is on Solace. It is very powerful and a great example of HFH.
(Listen to a bit of it here: http://www.last.fm/music/Heaven+Falls+Hard/Solace).
(Listen to a bit of it here: http://www.last.fm/music/Heaven+Falls+Hard/Solace).
I think that Stacye covered the HFH tracks, if I had to add one it would be Resurrection. Some important songs to me by others are:
1. The Cure – Faith ( Hands down my favorite album of all time)-
2. Dead Can Dance - Summoning Of The Muse –
3. Bauhaus – Mask –
4. Joy Division – Atmosphere – Click here to watch video. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQSpJfpVHmg).
5. Cocteau Twins – The Spangle Maker – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TfmKe-xja8E
6. Black Tape For A Blue Girl – The Rope (can’t find a link to the song, here’s another great track from Black Tape “Across A Thousand Blades” –
7. Goblin – Suspiria –
8. Christian Death – This Is Heresy (I love Rozz but this track introduced me to Christian Death, so Valor will always have my respect!) –
9. Lycia – Ionia – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvSE6BUEtNo
10. John Carpenter – Any & Everything ( too much awesome music that has come from this man, there’s no way I can narrow it down to just one track…so here’s a little taste of the great JC…) – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4YQfU5-SWg
Anthony: Thank you for that incredible list, and thank you for joining us here at the Darkness Blog. Anyone who likes the music scores of John Carpenter is cool with me. Ladies and Gentlemen, a huzzah for our guests today, Heaven Falls Hard.